NOAA Fisheries is asking for public comment until Aug. 19 and will host four webinars on its first-ever draft Equity and Environmental Justice Strategy.
The strategy is to provide guidance for incorporating and prioritizing equity and environmental justice in ongoing and future activities in support of NOAA Fisheries’ mission. NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce.
“NOAA Fisheries is focused on serving all communities more equitably and effectively, and this strategy will provide the framework to do just that,” said Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries and NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, in a statement.
“We are committed to advancing equity and environmental justice, including equal treatment, opportunities, and environmental benefits for all people and communities, while building on continuing efforts and partnerships with underserved and underrepresented communities,” she added.
In addition to written comments, which will be accepted until Aug. 19, comments will be accepted during the following scheduled webinars:
- Register for the 4 p.m. May 24 webinar
- Register for the 6 p.m. June 21 webinar
- Register for the 7 p.m. June 30 webinar
- Register for the 4 p.m. July 19 webinar
Through this call for public comment, officials seek help identifying the underserved communities and how to to reduce barriers to underserved communities. The agency is also asking for information on how to better incorporate equity and environmental justice into daily activities, and how to improve equity in agency programs and policies now and in the future. Feedback on evaluating whether the draft recommendations for action are on target is also requested.
The comments provided will inform NOAA Fisheries’ final strategy.
“While we are making progress in addressing equity and environmental justice, we know that we have much more work to do to embed EEJ into our day-to-day efforts,” said NOAA Fisheries Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, Sam Rauch, who also convened and led the agency’s EEJ Working Group. “By focusing on these goals and objectives we will provide more equitable stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat.”
To achieve the agency’s initial equity and environmental justice goals, each of the agency’s national program offices and geographic regions will incorporate EEJ into a step-down implementation plan. These plans will be specific and responsive to the needs of underserved communities and allows for the input of underserved communities, according to NOAA Fisheries.